FIRMITAS, UTILITAS, VENUSTAS

Vitruvius' two thousand-year-old definition of the essential qualities of architecture has been learned by generations of English-speaking architects as "firmness, commodity and delight".

"Firmitas" - at least in its basic structural sense - is generally taken for granted these days. "Venustas" is pursued with varying degrees of success by most architects and designers, and is the almost exclusive focus of the architectural press. "Utilitas" is often poorly understood - and sometimes wilfully ignored - by many in the profession.

At Simon Laird Associates, we are committed to the principle, as expressed by Vitruvius, that fitness for purpose is one of the key determinants of architecture, and that it should stand alongside "firmness" and "delight" in the creative dialectic of the design process.

In the context of commercial development, understanding fitness for purpose requires both an understanding of buildings and an understanding of the ways in which the world of work is changing. In the context of a fit-out for a particular client, it demands, in addition to this, a commitment to understanding the business drivers and the nature of change in that organisation.